Three diverse Realtors explain what it takes to be a great professional

During the Board’s RESPECT campaign this year, Realtors had the opportunity to take the Kudos Challenge — to give a kudo to any peer who they felt showed outstanding professionalism. The Kudos Challenge was the most popular feature of the RESPECT campaign.

Edie Takahashi Sutton Group West, South Surrey

So naturally, Edie Takahashi at Sutton Group West in South Surrey, was thankful and pleased when she read that three of her peers had taken the time to submit kudos extolling her professionalism. But in talking to Edie about her career journey, it becomes clear that aspiring to practice business with respect and integrity is something that she learned long before she became a licensed Realtor over 12 years ago.

“I was very fortunate to have great mentors,” she explains. “One gentleman in particular who was in wholesale flooring took me under his wing and taught me ethics and discipline. It’s amazing what mentors can do for you.”

In her previous career managing companies it was apparent to Edie that in business, the client relationship is everything. Edie also recalls how much she learned from managing broker Bruce Copp when she first started out in real estate.

“He was teaching me and taking me to his own classes, and writing up contracts. I can’t say enough about him. He did so much for us, and to this day, I really appreciate that, [because], when you know nothing, and you know you know nothing, it’s a scary world out there.”

Edie believes in the value of mentorship but regrets that because the business takes so much time it’s very difficult for Realtors like herself to fit mentoring into their schedule.

Her advice for new Realtors: “You have to go into real estate by asking ‘Why am I doing this?’ There may not be the most positive reasons for going into the real estate business. So first off think, what is it you want out of it?

“Secondly, you have to know you’re a good person at heart, and I think the majority of Realtors are.

“Thirdly, do you get swayed? If you can see what can happen and if you get greedy and let things slide,  then you always have to ask yourself:  ‘Who do you work for; who are you representing?’ That’s your client.”

“And be true to your word, because you’ve got to wake up the next morning and look at yourself in the mirror.”

Edie is a big fan of the FVREB’s Legally Speaking course because it brings a stark reality to the practice of real estate.

“It’s the best course ever,” says Edie. “I’m glad it’s mandatory. It’s the one course I love taking every year because it’s a reality check and very informative. I think all young agents should be taking it every year to be reminded that, this is legal, this is something you take seriously–this is your job.”

Don Fults Royal LePage Global Force Realty, Surrey

When we contacted Don Fults to pick his brain about Realtor professionalism, he had no idea that another Realtor had sent him a kudo on the RESPECT website. As a matter of fact, he never heard of the RESPECT campaign. But then, there’s not much that Don hasn’t already learned or taught others about being a professional Realtor.  He was a managing broker for over 30 years prior to a recent stepping out of that role, though he’s still practicing his profession.

When we asked Don his perspectives on professional courtesy, integrity and respect among Realtors, he was blunt, and characteristically irreverent.

“It’s about personal responsibility kid. Everybody knows what the rules are. Just follow the damn rules.”

Don said that in his 37 years in real estate, he has never had to go before the Board or the Council to face a complaint about his practices and he doesn’t think there is any mystery in that. For one thing, he believes strongly that applicants should take six months of real estate school before getting licensed and then continue to regularly attend courses long afterward. He himself invested a lot of time at UBC learning the business of real estate and he thinks it provided a strong foundation for his success.

“Other professionals—notaries, doctors, accountants—go to school for a long while,” says Don. “That way they will know it’s a profession and not just a quick lunch.”

Don is also a strong supporter of mentoring which he continues to offer to new licensees.

“It’s tough to get established,” he concedes.

As for the essential characteristics of a good professional Realtor, Don doesn’t hesitate.

“Honesty and friendliness. Treat people the way you want to be treated.”

David Smith Royal LePage Wolstencroft, Langley

As a one-year licensee, David Smith well knows he has a long way to go before he reaches Don’s level of knowledge and experience about the business of real estate. Yet he’s quickly making his own mark. He received a kudo from a peer who declared he was great to work with and said he was “…fair to everyone in the multiple offer situation. Top notch agent!”

And in August, David will take the stage as a speaker at the Inman Connect in San Francisco to talk about The Agent as Advocate, and how Realtors can play a valuable role in assisting refugees and disadvantaged people to find homes, among other community projects.

“I think our (Realtors’) reputation is weak in the community and if more of us would take the opportunity to advocate for others, it could be positively transformative.”

His perspective is informed by 10 years as a church pastor in the Fraser Valley, seemingly at odds with the real estate profession.

“Actually I have been able to take advantage of my background because that skill set was readily transferable to real estate,” says David, who points out that as a vocational pastor he had to manage budgets, staff and marketing like any other business.

David has also observed that real estate buying and selling are often triggered by life changing events such as marriage, inheritance, the birth of a child, as well as divorce, health issues or loss of income—the kinds of issues he helped people deal with as a pastor.

“I’ve found that real estate transactions always happen in a season of transition for people,” says David. “And they are very often challenging ones, so the ability to walk through those seasons with people is helpful.”

The Board was not able to feature all the many other Realtors who received kudos from their peers, but it became evident that there are many, many thoughtful, respectful Fraser Valley Realtors working on behalf of their clients. Congratulations to everyone who received a kudo and who continue to demonstrate true professionalism.